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68       MY COUNTRY AND MY PEOPLE

Such is the Chinese farcical view of life. The Chinese
language abounds in metaphors regarding the drama of
human life. Chinese officials assuming and leaving their posts
are spoken of as "entering the stage" and "making their exit,"
and a man coming with a high-sounding programme is referred
to as "singing high opera." We really look upon life as a stage,
and the kind of theatrical show we like best is always high
comedy, whether that comedy be a new constitution, or a bill
of rights, or an anti-opium bureau, or a disbandment con-
ference. We always enjoy it, but 1 wish our people would
sometimes be serious. Humour, above everything else, is
ruining China. One can have too much of that silvery laughter,
for it is again the laughter of the old rogue, at the touch of
whose breath every flower of enthusiasm and idealism must
wither and die.

VIII. CONSERVATISM

No portrait of the Chinese character would be complete
without a mention of its conservatism. Conservatism in itself
should not be a word of reproach. Conservatism is but a form
of pride and rests on a feeling of satisfaction with the present.
Since there is usually so little one can be proud of and so little
satisfaction in the arrangement of human life in this world,
conservatism is really a sign of inward richness, a gift rathei
to be envied.

The Chinese are by nature a proud race—excusably so,
when one considers the whole course of their history excep1
the last hundred years. For, though politically they were a-
times humiliated, culturally they were the centre of a vas
humanist civilization that was conscious of itself and lackec
no well-reasoned apologetics. China's only cultural rival o
any importance that represented a different point of view wa
Indian Buddhism, and for Buddhism, the true Confucianis
had always some measure of sneering contempt. For th
Gonfucianist was immeasurably proud of Confucius, and ii
being proud of Confucius, he was proud of the nation, proui
of the Chinese having understood life in its moral essence